Welcome back to NHL Predictions, January 26th edition! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This is the late game slate of NHL Predictions for January 26th. Be sure and check out the early games of NHL Predictions too.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Oilers 1-0 Jets
The Winnipeg Jets will be seeking revenge over the Oilers after a heartbreaking defeat on Sunday. Winnipeg coughed up two goals in the final three minutes of the game to fall to their second regulation loss of the season.
The Jets’ defence continues to be their biggest concern with plenty of soft goals conceded last time out. The Oilers were gifted chances on the back of poor defensive positioning and a lack of awareness around the net, allowing plenty of high danger scoring opportunities; this is a worrying trend in a series that involves Connor McDavid.
On the plus side for Winnipeg, Andrew Copp continues to provide a secondary scoring threat. After his two-goal performance against the Ottawa Senators, he followed up with another assist last game. He also had a goal ruled out for a high-stick during a goal-mouth scramble in the first period. Copp has five points in six games.
The Edmonton Oilers will be feeling energized after Leon Draisaitl blasted home the game-winning goal with less than one second left in game one. They round out their first road trip of the season tonight in Manitoba.
While the powerplay has been a concern for Edmonton, (3 for 26), who led the league last season, the build-up to Draisaitl’s game-winner was created while on the man advantage.
Elsewhere, Kyle Turris scored his first goal as an Oiler in the last game. He joined Edmonton after he was bought out by the Predators in the offseason. Turris was assisted by James Neal, another former Predator. The Jets will bounce back with the win and see power-play goals for both teams and Kyle Connor to score.
Prediction: Jets win 4-3
Los Angeles Kings vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Kings 0-2 Wild
The Los Angeles Kings were swept in their first series at home against the Wild this season. They fell in overtime in both games after surrendering a 3-1 lead in the third period.
However, they will be coming into this game with great confidence. The Kings put Ville Husso and the St Louis Blues to the sword at the weekend; three different players scored their first of the year as LA won 6-3. Gabriel Vilardi, the 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft, also potted one and has three on the season.
The Minnesota Wild have performed well analytically so far this season. They currently rank first in high danger scoring chances created per 60 and fifth in expected goals per 60 at five on five. The caveats to this are obviously the small sample size and the fact they have played the suspected bottom dwellers of the Western Division. However, you can only beat what it is in front of you and the Wild have been doing that so far.
Where the Wild has struggled though has been on the power play. They currently have a 7.41 percent success rate in 27 attempts. This has been offset by a highly competent penalty kill which has kept them in all contests.
The excitement around Minnesota so far this season is the early form of their younger core. Kirill Kaprizov has been creating highlight-reel plays for fun in his first week in the league. Meanwhile, Joel Eriksson Ek has five points in six games and Kevin Fiala has scored twice too. Minnesota dominate despite LA coming off a good performance
Prediction: Wild win 4-1
Detroit Red Wings vs. Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 0-0 Stars
The Dallas Stars are playing just their third game of the season due to the COVID-19 postponements. They are currently rocking wildly untenable percentages across both special teams units. They obliterated the Nashville Predators on the powerplay going at eight for 12 in two games. At the other end of the ice, their penalty kill was stingy with one goal conceded on nine attempts.
The Stars don’t look like they’ve missed a beat despite their early-season complications. Even with injuries to both Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, they still swept the Predators. Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov have both looked electric in top-line roles. Meanwhile, Joe Pavelski has a league-leading six power-play points.
The Detroit Red Wings were recently outscored 10-3 in their first series with the Chicago Blackhawks; a matchup that should henceforth be dubbed as ‘the battle at the basement’ in the Central division. Detroit will be reeling from those two performances, having split the previous series with playoff teams from last year.
In terms of production for Detroit, Bobby Ryan‘s early-season flourish was highly encouraging. He leads the team with four goals. Dylan Larkin has points in three games straight and has six overall. However, the Wings will be looking to get more out of Anthony Mantha. The right-winger has just one goal to start the year. He was averaging nearly a point per game last season.
Dallas keep rolling with an easy win
Prediction: Stars win 5-2
St Louis Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights
Head-to-Head: Blues 0-0 Golden Knights
The St Louis Blues are starting a four-game road trip in Vegas tonight. They hold a 3-2-1 record. St Louis’ most notable performer to date is bottom-six forward Jordan Kyrou who has surprised with six points in as many games.
However, the Blues are over-performing their offensive analytics in the early going. Despite managing three goals a game, they rank dead last for high danger scoring chances and are third-bottom in expected goals in all situations. To make matters worse this has been coupled with some suspect backup goaltending. Ville Husso has had a torrid start to his NHL career, giving up 9 goals on 48 shots.
Elsewhere, Vegas recently had their way with the Arizona Coyotes. They finished up their four-game series with a controversial win to send them top of the Western Division with 10 points.
Unsurprisingly, the Vegas Golden Knights continue to profit from the elite play driving ability of Mark Stone and Shea Theodore. The team ranks in the top 10 for expected goal share, high danger chances per 60 and Fenwick percentage. Vegas outplays St Louis but the scoreline doesn’t reflect it
Prediction: Golden Knights win 4-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 1-0 Flames
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their swing through Western Canada with a second tie against the Calgary Flames. They edged the first meeting 3-2 and improved to 5-2-0. Auston Matthews has points in four consecutive games including two game-winners.
Goaltender Jack Campbell‘s health is the most recent injury concern for Leafs fans. Campbell was involved in a pile-up with Matthew Tkachuk on Sunday. The incident occurred at the end of a goalmouth scramble in the dying minutes of the previous game against the Flames. He was in visible pain but stayed on the ice to finish the game. There was no injury update from the Leafs yesterday.
The Maple Leafs will be without Jason Spezza for tonight’s game. Coach Sheldon Keefe wants to give the veteran centre a rest. This will surely afford more opportunities for the Leafs’ depth pieces. They will be one of the focal points of the game with Joe Thornton, Nick Robertson and Jason Spezza all missing. Both Adam Brooks and Wayne Simmonds scored their first goals as Leafs in the last two games.
The Calgary Flames may expect a physical response tonight from the Leafs given Tkachuk’s altercation with their goaltender on the previous outing. But they will be heading into this one as favourites given they are at full strength.
Calgary’s season has started well, particularly given Johnny Gaudreau looks like he’s returned to form (two goals and five points). Flames’ fans may hope that this will quell further trade rumours involving their star left-winger. Moreover, the new addition Jacob Markstrom has been as advertised (.928 save percentage).
Surely Toronto can’t go three in a row?
Prediction: Flames win 5-3
San Jose Sharks vs. Colorado Avalanche
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0-0 Avalanche
The San Jose Sharks will be relatively happy with the beginning of their season. They’ve been ticking along at .500 despite their arduous schedule. Tonight is their seventh straight road game.
However, their two areas of concern continue to be on the defensive end. Devan Dubnyk‘s early season form hasn’t inspired confidence. The Sharks gambled that his downturn last season in Minnesota may just have been a bad year but it is highly possible that it is down to natural decline. Meanwhile, Erik Karlsson is also struggling.
At five on five, Karlsson has been on the ice for three goals for versus eight against, 47 shots for versus 71 against and 12 high danger scoring chances for versus 30 against.
Colorado (3-3-0) hasn’t had it all their own way in the early going. The Avalanche has split each of its three series so far and many point to the defensive side of the puck as an area where improvements need to be seen. Coach Jared Bednar scratched Ryan Graves for Colorado’s 3-1 loss to the Ducks on Sunday.
The Colorado Avalanche‘s offensive leaders are unsurprisingly their first line and their top three defensemen. At five on five this season, Nathan Mackinnon has been on the ice for six goals for versus two against, 106 shots for versus 65 against and 26 high danger chances for versus 11 against. Avalanche run away with it
Prediction: Avalanche win 6-2
Anaheim Ducks vs. Arizona Coyotes
Head-to-Head: Ducks 0-0 Coyotes
The Anaheim Ducks come into this matchup after taking three points off the Colorado Avalanche in two games. The Ducks hold an extremely encouraging 2-2-2 record given the fact they’ve played six games against playoff-bound teams.
John Gibson (.938 save percentage) has started off on fire in the early going. A good thing too because Anaheim can’t put the puck in the net right now. The Ducks currently have the lowest goals per game rate in the league. They also haven’t scored a powerplay goal but they have one of the most efficient penalty kills. So far, it is Gibson putting the team on his back.
The Arizona Coyotes are fresh off a loss decided by an egregious miss on an offside call. The resulting dump and chase led to a goal in the final minute for the Vegas Golden Knights who won 1-0. The Yotes went 1-3-0 in their four-game series with Vegas.
It seems as though Oliver Ekman Larsson’s absence has been felt. Arizona is giving up three goals a game and is in the bottom four in expected goals against at this early stage. That being said, playing four times against Vegas does tend to have an effect on your defensive stats.
However, on the offensive side of the puck, the Coyotes have contributions throughout the lineup. Phil Kessel leads the team with four goals and Conor Garland (two goals and six points) is producing with increased minutes.
Yotes come out seething but have trouble putting it past Gibson
Prediction: Ducks win 3-2
That does it for January 26th’s Late Games set of NHL Predictions! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for a new set of NHL Predictions!
Embed from Getty Images